OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE
Fuji, Japan, Oct 11, 2008
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix from pole position after setting a time of 1m18.404 in the final moments of Saturday’s thrilling qualifying session. Today’s result marked Lewis’s 12th time on the pole, the seventh for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes this year and the 61st for the McLaren-Mercedes partnership. Heikki Kovalainen underlined the team’s competitiveness, finishing third fastest with a time of 1m18.821. He will start from the second row, on the clean side of the grid, immediately behind his team-mate.
"Usually, on a heavy fuel load, the car can be quite tough to drive on the limit, but I managed to pull all the sectors together and drove a pretty good lap. It wasn’t perfect - I made a small mistake in the final corner, where I lost a tenth - but we had a good session. The team has done a phenomenal job all weekend, and Heikki’s and my pace today really underlines that. We think we’ve got a good strategy for tomorrow and we want to finish at the front."
"A pretty good session for me - it took a little time to get up to speed in Q1, but I put two good laps together in the final session. We were very quick in Q2 as well - and, while third was really the best I could manage today, I’m still very pleased with the result. We’re still targeting both world championships in these final few races so I’ll be looking for the very best result for myself and the team tomorrow."
"First and third in qualifying is clearly a very satisfying result - and represents a very strong team performance. Lewis’s pole lap was awesome in the proper sense of that often-abused adjective - in fact I’d go so far as to say that it was possibly the best lap of his career so far. Heikki’s lap was also very impressive and extremely pleasing - because it showcases the strength and depth of our driver line-up and of our whole team. Having said all that, although we’ll enjoy our qualifying success this evening, the race is what really matters and all I’ll say about that is that we’ve sacrificed nothing in our efforts to achieve advantageous grid positions and are therefore looking forward to putting in a very competitive performance tomorrow."
"A great lap from Lewis, a great lap from Heikki make pole position and position three for us. This is a perfect line-up for the start tomorrow, but we certainly will not make the mistake and under-estimate our competitors. We should be strong in the long runs of the race as shown on Friday during the practice sessions, but Ferrari will be very quick too, so there will be no room for errors tomorrow. For today, we are perfectly happy - thank you to the team and thanks to Lewis and Heikki. It would be great of course, if we could generate the same feeling inside the team at the same time tomorrow."
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